Officer Garrett Rolfe faces 11 charges and Devin Brosnan, the other officer involved in the killing, is facing three charges
The Atlanta officer who fatally shot Rayshard Brooks in the back after the fleeing man pointed a stun gun in his direction faces 11 charges, including felony murder, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Brooks, who was black, posed no threat when he was gunned down and that the white officer kicked him and offered no medical treatment as he lay dying on the ground.
Brooks was holding a stun gun he had snatched from officers but was 18ft, 3in away when he was shot by Officer Garrett Rolfe and was running away at the time, District Attorney Paul Howard said in announcing the charges five days after the killing outside a Wendy’s restaurant rocked the city.
The shooting sparked new demonstrations in Georgia’s capital against police brutality, after occasionally turbulent protests in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis had largely simmered down. The Atlanta police chief, Erika Shields, resigned less than 24 hours after Brooks died.
Howard made the announcement about officer Rolfe during a news conference in the city that had been eagerly awaited by many, including campaigners for police reform. Rolfe had already been fired after he fatally shot Brooks, 27, on Friday night.
“We have concluded at the time Mr Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or officers,” Howard said.
Brooks’s widow, Tomika Miller, attended the news conference along with her lawyers, Justin Miller and L Chris Stewart.
The news came as Republicans on Capitol Hill unveiled a package of police reform measures and the movement to get rid of Confederate monuments and other racially offensive symbols reached America’s breakfast table, with the maker of Aunt Jemima syrup and pancake mix dropping the 131-year-old brand.
Police were called to a Wendy’s restaurant over complaints of a car blocking the drive-thru lane. An officer found Brooks asleep behind the wheel of the car and called for another officer to do field sobriety testing.
Police body camera video shows Brooks and officers having a relatively calm and respectful conversation for more than 40 minutes before things rapidly turned violent. Brooks wrestled with officers, snatched one of their stun guns and turned and pointed it at one of them as he ran through the parking lot.
An autopsy found that Brooks was shot twice in the back.
In announcing the charges Brooks revealed disturbing details about the incident. Howard revealed that Rolfe knew the taser Brooks took from him was not functional, as it had already been fired twice and thus was of no use when he shot Brooks twice in the back as he was running away.
The detail underscores that Rolfe was apparently aware he was in no physical danger when he fatally shot Brooks. Cameras also captured Rolfe kicking Brooks as he was on the ground struggling for his life.
“I got him!” the district attorney quoted Rolfe as saying.
The felony murder charge against Rolfe carries life in prison or the death penalty, if prosecutors choose to seek it. Howard recommended that Rolfe be held without bond.
Devin Brosnan, the other Atlanta police officer involved in the killing, is facing three charges, including aggravated assault and violation of oath. The aggravated assault charge is in connection to Brosnan standing on Brooks’ shoulders after he was shot by officer Rolfe.
Howard said Brosnan is cooperating with his office and is willing to testify against Rolfe, a relatively rare case of one officer agreeing to provide evidence against another.